1) How Do You Know? –an old story

     There once was a farmer. One day the farmer’s only horse broke out of the corral and ran away. The farmer’s neighbors, all hearing of the horse running away, came to the farmer’s house to view the corral. As they stood there, the neighbors all said, “Oh, what bad luck!” The farmer replied, “How do you know this is bad?”

     About a week later, the horse returned, bringing with it a whole herd of wild horses, which the farmer and his son quickly corralled. The neighbors, hearing of the corralling of the horses, came to see for themselves. As they stood there looking at the corral filled with horses, the neighbors said, “Oh what good luck!” The farmer replied, “How do you know this is good?”

     A couple of weeks later, the farmer’s son’s leg was badly broken when he was thrown from one the their new wild horses that he was trying to tame. A few days later the broken leg became infected and the son became delirious with fever. The neighbors, all hearing of the incident, came to see the son.  As they stood there, the neighbors said, “Oh what bad luck!”  The farmer replied, “How do you know this is bad?”

     At that same time in China, a war broke out between two rival warlords. In need of more soldiers, a captain came to the village to conscript young men to fight in the war. When the captain came to take the farmer’s son, he found the young man with a broken leg, delirious with fever. Knowing there was no way the son could fight, the captain left him there. A few days later, the son’s fever broke. The neighbors, hearing of the son’s not being taken to fight in the war and of his return to good health, all came to see him. As they stood there, each onesaid, “Oh what good luck!” The farmer replied, “How do you know this is good?”


Isaiah 55:8-9 — “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither
are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are
higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and
my thoughts than your thoughts.” (NIV)

Jeremiah 9:12 — What man is wise enough to understand this?
Who has been instructed by the Lord and can explain it? Why
has the land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one
can cross? (NIV)

Romans 8:28 — We know that in all things God works for the
good of those who love him,who have been called according to
his purpose. (NIV)

Isaiah 5:20-21 — Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil, who put darkness for light and
light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
and clever in their own sight. (NIV)

I Corinthians 1:25 — For the foolishness of God is wiser
than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God
is stronger than man’s strength. (NIV)

Jonah 3:9a — “Who knows?…”


     O Father of all mercy and God of all comfort, strengthen and uphold me by your Spirit, until you reveal to me the purpose of my tribulations. For it is your will that we, at times, be troubled and grieved. Indeed, you do not permit any evil to be done, unless you can make it serve a good purpose. You see my distress and weakness. I pray that you help and deliver me. Amen.  –Martin Luther